I am wondering which is grammatically more correct - "The sight of her pale face stings my eyes." or "her pale face stings my eyes.?". I guess its the first one. The second one makes little sense.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Robusto, TimLymington, tchrist, Ronan Sep 9 '14 at 17:23

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    Grammar has nothing to do with sense. Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. – RegDwigнt Sep 9 '14 at 14:43
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    Hint: if you're arguing from a position of logic (her face isn't physically touching my eyeball, so it cannot sting it), then you're arguing semantics. As I said, grammatically speaking (which ignores all considerations of meaning), they're both perfectly valid. In terms of style, I prefer the shorter version. In terms of logic, as I said, there's essentially zero risk that someone will misunderstand what you're saying, and believe you to mean "her physical face (as opposed to the light from her face) caused my eyes to sting". – Dan Bron Sep 9 '14 at 14:45
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    @TheLostMind: that example is used to demonstrate that a sentence can be perfectly, 100%, unquestionably grammatical, and yet meaningless. To draw the distinction between the grammar and semantics (information content) of a sentence. In this case, it was intended to highlight that neither sentence was grammatically preferable to the other; both were valid, grammatical, English sentences. – Dan Bron Sep 9 '14 at 15:06
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about writing advice – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '14 at 15:18
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    @TheLostMind: Not this kind, obviously! :) As several comments make clear, there's no element of "grammatically more correct" here - it's just a stylistic choice between two creative phrasings. If you genuinely need to ask about grammaticality at this level, you should be posting on English Language Learners. If it's simply a matter of "Which sounds best?", you might get a response on Writers – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '14 at 15:44

“The sight of her pale face stings my eyes.”

That sentence does not have grammar errors. It may have semantic issues, particularly if you intend it to be interpreted literally rather than figuratively.

“Her pale face stings my eyes.”

(I've fixed some punctuation errors; as given, it didn't start with a capital letter, had incompatible punctuation marks (period and question mark) at its end, and not being a question, should have had no question mark.)

The sentence as I've shown it has no grammar errors, but like the first sentence could have semantic issues. On stylistic grounds (eg brevity, impact) it would be preferable to the other, if you mean to imply you are upset or shocked by the paleness of her face.

If you mean to imply that it is seeing her that has upset or shocked you (rather than seeing her pale face) use the first sentence. That is, including the sight of takes emphasis away from her pale face. Although it makes the observer more prominent, more important is that it adds a layer of thought: seeing something and reacting, vs. just reacting.

  • This is a great answer. I would suggest you ignore the punctuation and capitalization errors in the second quote as accidental and irrelevant. If you wouldn't mind elaborating on your thoughts in the final paragraph, I'll upvote the answer. – Dan Bron Sep 9 '14 at 15:39
  • ......annnnd +1 – Dan Bron Sep 9 '14 at 15:58

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